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Microsoft’s “Fix It” App Trying to Take Pain Out of Broken PCs

Microsoft‘s testing a service that may, just may, be a breath of fresh air to PC users struggling with balky or broken Windows installations: It’s called “Fix It”…and it purports to do exactly what it says, largely automatically.

MSfix-it

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Microsoft‘s testing a service that may, just may, be a breath of fresh air to PC users struggling with balky or broken Windows installations: It’s called “Fix It”…and it purports to do exactly what it says, largely automatically.

The system is free, and it’s in beta-test mode, so if you’re afflicted with a problem PC, give it a whirl and see what you think. It’s specifically targeted at users who haven’t got Windows 7 yet, as in some senses it replicates that OS’s advanced diagnostics systems for XP and Vista (you have to have XP service pack 3 installed.)

Once it’s download and activated, it’s ready to run even if your system is frazzled to the point where you’ve lost your Internet connection. On clicking “run” it scouts through your PC’s settings, and the innumerable Windows configuration and operational files to make sure all is tickety-boo. If you’re running Fix It, of course, odds are that you think there is a problem or two–so if Fix It finds something it can tackle, it pops up the relevant diagnostic interfaces for you. Apparently it can tackle over 300 common Windows gripes without you having to dig on your own through your PC’s digital guts, and it can download updates to its archive that may even prevent future problems cropping up. Small business sysadmins will also be pleased to learn it can even remote-monitor multiple PCs.

Why’s Microsoft releasing this package now, though, with Windows 7 already a pretty good success story? It’s to chase the long tail of Windows customers who are being slow, are reluctant, or whose legacy software makes it difficult for them to upgrade to the latest Windows version. Keeping these customers sweet is good for MS PR, and it stops them from considering other options–like Apple gear or a Linux-based system. Keeping these folks happy with MS is a good move, as it may keep them invested in the products until they do feel the need to upgrade–at which point MS has their business for several more years, guaranteed.

Skeptics will point and laugh at “Fix It” and argue that there shouldn’t be this many holes in Windows in the first place, or at least that it should be easier to find and fix them when they do cause a problem. And Apple proponents will suggest that Fix It be replaced with a text file that simply says “Next time, buy a Mac.” But you’ve at least got to credit MS with putting this code out for zero cost.

Kit QR Twitter

To keep up with this news in a more real-time setting, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter. That QR code on the left will take you to my Twitter feed too. (And if you’ve no idea what that spotty-looking thing is, then find out here.)

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About the author

I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)

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